The Witness is an indie title from Thekla Inc. which I’ve been very much looking forward to, which took six years to make and will probably take the average gamer around 20 hours to complete, with completists being able to rack up 50 hours in total. That isn’t too bad for an independent game, and I was also pleasantly surprised how little space was taken up on my hard drive.
This isn’t a straight-forward game, which centres around a guy stuck on a gigantic island, full of riddles which unlock new areas that allow you to go on to solve more riddles. This sort of game will be a ‘marmite’ one for some, but I, for one, was quite excited and was looking forward to getting my brain puzzled by its creator, Jonathan Blow. This is a single-player experience, but is fine to play with the wife or a friend, as a lot of the riddles may need the assistance of others to solve with another’s perspective to guide your misguided judgements.
It is often a case with these independent games that they normally focus less on graphics and more on gameplay – I thought that was going to be the case with this game, and how wrong I was. There is something about the graphics to The Witness which pleases the eye. No, these graphics aren’t as lifelike as a game could be in this modern era of gaming. No, they won’t stun you with magnificent enemies and unbelievable faces (mostly because you never really get to see a face), but they will inspire you. They do all the simple things perfectly and the colours used are mesmerising. It often reminded me of a Nintendo game, as being a gamer, I own all systems and I have often admired the sharpness of the colours used within those. The Witness have got this spot on: the deep purples, and the reds mixed with the beiges. Damn, it’s hard to explain when you’re stunned by the colours, but I really do love the graphics to this game. Quite early on, I came across a dog and found myself falling in love with how it looked. Sadly, I have never since found said dog again and I miss it immensely. Overall, I would give the graphics a 9 – yes, I may find it hard to really explain what is so special about it, but something really is intoxicating.
I have a bit of an issue with the sound in this game, as they’re close to silence. You can often hear the sound of your brain trying to work out the answer to a puzzle that leaves you whirling. Now I completely understand that you wouldn’t expect the same kind of soundtrack on this game as you would on a big release such as FIFA 17, but I just felt myself wanting a little bit more noise. I also believe everyone should have a soundtrack to their lives. I would love to be able to switch the music on in my head whenever I wanted. You can hear your character walking and interacting, but that was about it. I just found myself getting a little bit bored with the noises and even though what I was seeing was so picturesque, I have more senses than the one. I completely understand why this choice was made, and you don’t want huge distractions while figuring out the puzzles, but it just needs something more, such as a little bit more music – or at least some music. Anyway, that explains the 5/10 score. May seem harsh, but I ended up putting on music every time I played.
When it comes to gameplay, this isn’t the most technical of games in the sense that there aren’t any really quick motions required to test out the controller reactions – there is only one way of playing this game. It isn’t an online game, nor is it a multiplayer title, even though it is a game which your friend or partner may enjoy. Where the gameplay is really decided, is in the puzzles, and what drew me to them particularly is the great variation. There are around twelve different types, so when you feel you are good at one, they stop providing you with that type of puzzle. When I came to the environmental puzzles, obviously, I won’t give anything away about this, but they took me close to 30 minutes to work out what I needed to do. This, I found brilliant and is part of the reason which makes this game worth the £30 it costs. Considering this is a puzzle game, it offers you a strong variety of activities – something I haven’t seen since a game like Portal 2. Overall, that makes this section worth an 8.
Enjoyment: This is always the most personal part of the game. Did I enjoy The Witness? Yes. Would I play it again? Probably not. Did I have to put music on whilst playing? Yes. However, it is worth noting that this game is incredibly addictive and will keep you entertained for a long time, especially if you play it alongside other games, and this is the way I would suggest playing it. game. Most of you will know if this is your type of game, and if it is, I wouldn’t wait for it to eventually move on to PS Plus – I would buy it now. Overall, this section gets an 8 – some may have thought that I would have scored it higher, but there seemed to be something missing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I felt myself wanting something that this game couldn’t offer.
The Witness is out now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC/Steam, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.
- Publisher: Thekla Inc.
- Players: single-player
- HDTV options: up to 1080p
- Sound: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Director/writer: Jonathan Blow
Dialogue editor: Goeun Lee
Voice director: Liam O’Brien
Voice cast: Terra Deva, Ashley Johnson, Phil LaMarr and Matthew Waterson